Mayo will start their defence of their Connacht u21 title tomorrow in Fr O’Hara Park in Charlestown with the visit of Liam Sammon’s Galway side. Since the trio of Pat Holmes, Noel Connelly, and Mícheál Collins took charge of the side in 2006 they have at the least managed to claim the Connacht title, in their first year in charge they landed the top prize seeing off Cork on an unforgettable day in Ennis.
Tomorrow’s encounter looks to be one of the toughest the trio will ever have to negotiate since they took charge at the helm. Preparations have not gone the best for the side, they have lost a number of low key challenge matches to date and as recently as a fortnight ago shipped a heavy defeat to Tyrone in Claremorris in a tournament game.
The trio will have five of the Mayo senior panel to call on against a fancied Galway side which includes the likes of Jonathan Ryan, David Reilly, Adrian Faherty, and Gary O’Donnell who all have senior experience with the tribesmen. The Mayo seniors who will be in the frame are Kevin McLoughlin who made an accomplished debut for the senior side last weekend against Westmeath, while Tom Parsons at midfield will be the senior player on the squad, with Mikey Sweeney from Kiltane, Ballinrobe’s Donal Vaughan, and last year’s minor star Aidan O’Shea all having tasted action with the senior side in the league this year already. Other players who will be in the shake up to be leading the line for Mayo on Saturday will be last year’s minors goalkeeper Robert Hennelly, Westport duo Kevin Keane and Lee Keegan, Jason Doherty from Burrishoole, Ray Geraghty, and Niall Douglas.
While a number of the Mayo side came close to winning the minor All Ireland title in 2008, the Galway side will be backboned by a number of players who went on to win that title in 2007, throw into the hat the Roscommon side who won the All Ireland minor title in 2006, the vast majority of whom will be in their final year at u21. This promises to be a very tough and exciting Connacht u21 championship.